Soon the distinctive roar of Harley’s will be filling Southern Humboldt. For us at the Riverwood, the party starts on Thursday and doesn’t stop till the last bike leaves on Sunday. The Redwood Run is coming to town! At the Riverwood, we pretty much have our preparations down to a fine art. This will be the 18th Redwood Run at the Riverwood since I’ve owned it and she is waiting with open arms. Steaks, oysters and prawns will be sizzling on the grill. Old friends will meet and new friends will be made. Bikers are a great group. After all is done and everyone goes home, there won’t be any trash anywhere, no cigarette butts in my flowers, and hopefully my till will be full. Even if I make money, all my permits are due on June 30th anyway so hardly any of it ever sticks around very long. Oh well……Just working for the man………..
We love to ride but we just don’t have much time anymore. Gary works the roads in the summer and I make plans with the SHE’s for camping and river excursions. I don’t look as good on the back of a bike as I used to either. Thankfully I still have a rear that won’t hang over the sides, but my neck flaps if we go over 60mph so I wear a scarf to hold that down. One ride last summer we were moving along at a good clip. I could see my reflection in Gary’s helmet and to my dismay, my cheeks were flapping too! Geez! I guess a full face helmet would fix that, but I’m still from the old school when no one wore helmets so I just can’t go that route yet. Let em’ flap!
We bought our Road King during the Redwood Run in 2000, the year we were married. It’s black. One time we were at another bike run and we stayed in a little cabin. We walked down to the music and had a few drinks. Gary went to bed but I stayed up much too long and had too much fun. When I tried to find our cabin I figured it would be easy. Just find the bike and there I would be. In my diminished state and due to the total darkness in the trees, I got turned around and everywhere I looked there was a black Road King. I’d never seen so many black Road King’s in my life! Maybe I was seeing double…. I finally had to resort to reading the license plates, squinting closely on my hands and knees, looking for RIVWDIN.
I can remember the old days, coming home from a long ride and spending hours combing the bugs and snarls out of my hair. I envy ladies who don’t get “helmet head”. Probably the best part of the Redwood Run is watching bikers as they come in and out. The ladies get off first, take off their helmets, shaking out their hair. The guys get off and pull off their gloves and helmets, checking the bike and fiddling with stuff. The ladies use the side mirrors to put on lipstick and check their mascara. Everyone chats around for a bit, taking off jackets and folding everything into the saddle bags if they have them. When they leave, it’s the reverse. It can take up to a half hour to get back on the road sometimes. Usually when Gary and I ride, we go alone, because waiting for a group to get it all together to leave someplace is like herding cats. Hair has be braided or tied back, helmets adjusted just so, sweatshirts donned and jackets zipped. Gloves are usually the last piece of apparel applied. Then the bike has to start. The guy will get on, start the bike and then the girl will swing up onto the back. We don’t have one of those big couch seats on our bike so I literally swing my leg over the back to get on. I settle down behind Gary and we’re good to go, but some of these bikes are like mounting a camel! We test drove one with a big couch seat once and I felt like I was trapped in a recliner. I didn’t like that feeling. I can feel the bike better, perched right behind Gary, and I like holding on to him too. If we go down, we go down together.
A couple of years before I married Gary, I rode up to Reno with my friend, Tom. And yes, we were really just friends! He had a beautiful 97 Road King….black. We had stopped had stopped in Placerville and leathered up as it was getting chilly. Late September in the mountains turns cold quickly. Street Vibrations was over and everyone was heading home. Highway 49 was beautiful with all the fall colors so we were cruising, enjoying the scenery. As we went around a turn I felt the back of the bike shudder. It was just a flash before we were down on the pavement, skidding along on the side. I pushed off and landed hard on my elbows but my leg was still under the wheel. Somehow I ended up on top of Tom with the bike on top of me. His visor had cut his eye pretty bad and besides him bleeding, a spreading pool of oil from the bike was snaking across the road. We could hear bikes coming, so I pushed and he pushed and somehow we got out from under the bike. I was in shock, and I’m sure he was too, but he yelled at me to get dirt and throw it over the oil. Tom had been through three tours of Vietnam so a little bike wreck didn’t stop his thinking process. But it was so sudden, so fast. One second were up and the next we were down. The leather that we had put on in Placerville saved our lives. My boot was ground down at the ankle and the elbows on my jacket were scuffed up, but nothing was broken. Bikers and cars began to stop to help. We both ended up at the hospital and the bike was taken to a garage nearby for safekeeping. It was pretty mangled. We found out later a little kick stand under the frame for raising the rear wheel up and the spring in the stand had fatigued and dropped down, catching on a “drunk bump” as we went around the turn. Whoomp! That was all she wrote. I was sore for weeks and I still tense up going around certain turns. Later Tom did get in a bad accident and really screwed up his leg, and while recovering from that he was diagnosed with cancer. He was a good friend.
Gary is a really safe rider. It’s the other people I don’t trust. Then there are the pot holes. Usually I can see them coming, but sometimes they take me by surprise and I find myself up off the seat about six inches. Those are no fun! There are lots of cool places to ride in Humboldt if you’re in a car, but on a bike with a passenger on the back, the roads are terrible.
We took the bike out for a short ride last weekend. It was a glorious spring afternoon. My jeans felt a little snugger than last year and I had to wrap the scarf tighter around my neck (flapping) but it felt good to be out in the air. Riding through the Redwoods, smelling the scent of the earth and river……So in a few weeks, all my rowdy friends will be coming over for a PARTY! For three days it will be laughing, music, food and bikes. But when the last one leaves on Sunday, we’ll miss them. The silence will be loud. Please watch out for them on the road.